#47 – Skillet Cheese

#47 – Skillet Cheese

 This week I am going to share one of the most delightful snacks I make on a regular basis – Skillet Cheese. If you have seen commercially produced cheese wisps or chips…all I can say is that making it fresh is cheaper, tastier, and quite easy. 

 

The recipe for this is very straightforward as it only consists of shredded cheese…or any cheese for that matter but it is generally easier to make with shredded cheese. I recommend sticking in the typical semi-hard to hard cheese range. American cheese will not work, and neither will soft cheeses like fresh chevre. 

 

All you do is heat a skillet on medium high heat, sprinkle the cheese so that it evenly covers the flat part of the skillet. Allow the cheese to melt and begin to fry. When the bottom side begins to brown and firm up, you can either fold the cheese in half, or flip it over to cook the rest of the way. Finally, remove it from the skillet and allow to cool for a couple minutes before enjoying. 

 

Let’s talk a little bit more about what’s happening when we do this. As the cheese heats up, first the solid milk fat present begins to liquify into oil. As the temperature rises, the casein proteins holding it together break and the cheese becomes liquid. In this state, the component molecules continue to change, any remaining moisture will evaporate. Then, the lactose, or milk sugars, begin to caramelize in a process called the Maillard reaction. Once you remove the heat, the cheese particles re-solidify in their new shape, often leaving behind some liquid fat in the pan. 

 

The Maillard reaction is the same one responsible for the deliciousness of seared meat as well as toasted marshmallows and browned butter.  

 

You can use cheese that you shred yourself or pre-shredded cheese. Note that commercially shredded cheese has dextrose and other anti-caking agents in it. While generally negligible, if you are strictly watching your carbs or have a sensitivity to dextrose, it will be better to shred your own. If you can stomach it, dextrose actually helps the cheese come and stay together when you melt it down. 

 

I like to use Mozzarella, pepper jack, or a mild cheddar. I find that sharper cheddars can sometimes come with an acrid flavor when melted down, but to each his own. 

 

Skillet cheese is versatile! I like to fry the first side, place meat, onions, and sauce in the center and then fold the cheese in half like a quesadilla without the tortillas!. While the cheese is warm, it remains pliable – I have seen some make taco shells out of it! And of course, it is delicious just on it’s own. 

You can find this recipe and all of my recipes on our website alleghenymountainradio.org. Please send reviews and pictures to sage@amrmail.org. For recipe round up, this is Sage Tanguay

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